Are you someone who cringes at the sight of moldy growth on cheese left too long in the deli drawer of your fridge?
Do you shudder as you open the veggie drawer to see the furry blueberries left at the bottom of the crisper drawer after eating so many freshly picked ones your stomach hurt?
Then growing your own gluten-free sourdough food for bread starter might not be the fun experience I’ve had.
To grow your own yummy wild yeast colony means embracing the quirks and temperamental behavior of wild beings. Getting passionate about bubbles forming in solution, desiring the sour smell and taste that wild yeasties can give to your bread. It means craving the need to nurture and care for another living breathing being.
If you can embrace the unpredictably of wildness, here is the big secret about gluten-free sourdough.
All you have to do is take equal amounts of the Gluten-Free Sourdough Food (recipe below) and water. Mix together well; Then put it in a glass jar, and leave it open to the air of your kitchen for a couple of days. The wild yeasts that surround you colonize the medium so wait and watch for growth.
Typically that it only takes a couple of days before you see tiny bubbles of gas separated by the flour mixture, bee you see the surface moisture layer get thicker and frothy.
Bee you have live wild yeast in your jar.
Just food, water and time and you will have your very own wild yeast colony.
Simple but there are places where you need to be cautious so you get yummy instead of yucky.
So lets gather our materials first and I’ll explain a bit of why I choose what I did to make my Starter mixture.
In the flour mix I attempted to match the protein, fats, fiber and carbohydrates of organic hard winter wheat flour.
That is the flour bread bakers who make a classic wholegrain wheat loaf use to create the thick crust, open-holed, tangy flavor and tender-threaded bread of my dreams.
Geeking out I created the flour chart to work out proportions.
Now before you get concerned about not having nutritional information about the overall quantities of fiber, fat, protein and carbohydrates in the mix, realize that for home chefs it is very difficult to do that analysis.
Someday I will be able to get it analyzed professionally and can see how close I got, but right now, I will let my success be the proof.
- 583 grams (approximately 4⅓ cups)brown rice flour
- 583 grams (approx. 4¾ cups) sorghum flour
- 583 grams (approx. 4¾ cups) millet flour
- 290 grams (approx. 1¾ cups) sweet rice flour
- 74 grams (approx. ¾ cup) garfava (Garbanzo-Fava) flour
- 155 grams (approx. 1¼ cups)white bean flour
- Stir together till one color. I measure by grams since that is the most exact of all measurements.
- To get enough sourdough starter for a batch of Sourdough Bread, mix together 600 grams of water and 600 grams of sourdough food in a gallon sized jar.
- Leave it open to the air for at least 2 days till it looks like the jar below, then stir in 300 grams of sourdough food and 300 grams water.
- Let it grow for a day or two.
- Stir in 300 grams sourdough food and 300 grams water.
- let it grow for 1-2 days
- stir in 300 grams sourdough food and 300 grams water.
- Let it grow and bake.
- My schedule tends to be: Mix up the initial food on Friday night or Saturday morning.
- Feed on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
- Bake on Saturday or Sunday then feed the remainder with 300 grams sourdough food and 300 grams water
- Repeat till you are so happy or tired of sourdough
Success is the norm for my recipes, all except the chocolate chip cookies. Those were an epic fail. So I won’t be giving you that one, but I will be sharing all the others over time.
How to create a flour mix? Have you ever heard Shauna Ahern aka The Gluten-Free Girl, talk about this problem? If you ever get a chance to hear her speak, seize the moment. Only a former teacher truly gets the body language in the description.
I will paraphrase:
Imagine a clique of middle schoolers bouncing down the hall of the school. Absolutely certain of they’re place in the world, they are an unparalleled force of nature.
There is the backbone girl of the clique, the one everyone goes to with their problems simply because she guides without flash and frenzy.
Sometimes there is another girl, one of substance and presence. Tender but firm, kind of a mommy figure, steadfast and homey.
There is the tender-hearted, moony one, the girl with the little hearts dotted over all her i’s.
Lastly the airy girls, flipping their hair just ‘cause they can, insubstantial but essential to the dynamics of the group.
Creating a flour mixture that works means gathering likewise diverse components together for balance in baking.
I started out by searching a strong backbone the mix, one that would allow growth and crust without adding too much density.
I chose organic brown rice flour for its fiber component, mild taste and strong firm presence.
Next I wanted to increase the homey flavor components since I find brown rice flour to be very bland, the goal was to be a bit more whole grain.
I really like sorghum flour for a wheaty taste and BONUS it has the highest protein quantities of all the typically available gluten-free flours, even higher than quinoa. Wish I could find it in organic but my local stores just don’t stock it.
Then I went looking for my tender-hearted flour and found it in millet. Millet flour is pale yellow and very soft. I tend to use it whenever I want a tender crumb structure.
The binder of the group I found in one of my favorite gluten-free flours, sweet rice flour aka glutinous rice flour. This flour has a few wonderful qualities.
It is bland.
It is a small, finely ground flour that works into the gaps between the brown rice flour grains and sticks them together.
This is my go-to flour structure in combination with brown rice flour.
And lastly for my starter flour blend, I reached for beans since I wasn’t anywhere close to the right protein quantity yet.
I use just a bit of garfava (garbonzo and fava bean mix) since I don’t truly love the taste. White bean flour is a larger component since it is very bland but adds a good quantity of both fiber and protein per ¼ cup.
Stirred all together till the color is uniform. This is the gluten-free sourdough food.
I’ve used Bob’s Red Mill flours for my mix. You can order them directly yourself right here.
I live in the Pacific Northwest and feel that shipping flours across the country is just ecologically silly. They’re heavy after all!
Whenever possible, I chose the organic ones*, but occasionally there isn’t that choice. If organic is something you value, make sure to ask anyway. The greater the demand, the more likely we will be able to order our flours in organic.
Now get a gallon glass jar if you plan on baking frequently. It doesn’t need to be sterilized, just make sure it is very clean.
Scoop out 600 grams of starter mix and add 600 grams of water. Stir well to blend the flour and water into a smooth batter.
Leave uncovered in your kitchen at room temperature.
In two days, you will see bubbles in the mixture and the liquid will have darkened a bit.
But what about the last group of girls, the airy ones?
They are added when we actually make the bread.
They are just too flighty to rest comfortably in water for days.
UPDATE: I now have the ability to send out packets of dried starter to anyone who would feel better knowing the yeasts are healthy and happy.
I’ve decided to use the Healthy Gluten-Free Kids to help me.
This local support group I facilitate gathers all children who wish to talk and learn about thriving gluten-free together. We like to be able to go on field trips and visit restaurants, relax and have fun.
So like the Oregon Trail folks, we are asking donations to support the growing, drying and packaging of the Gluten-Free starter.
Just send a self addressed stamped with 3 forever stamps (at least $1.38 in postage) envelope with your donation to my office.
Layton Health Clinic
1329 King Street
Bellingham WA 98229
If you want to make a check the donation, please make it out to Healthy Gluten-Free Kids.
Every other week we will mail out the starters. That way we have the time to produce fresh starter as needed you.
When you get your packet, simply scoop out 600 grams of starter mix and add 600 grams of water. Stir well to blend the flour and water into a smooth batter. Then stir in the packet and wait till you see the bubbles forming. This takes 1-2 days depending on the warmth in your home.